Project: I HEAR YOU

By James Gray Jr.

Lexi Betz’s Certification Tag. Photo by Trent McCune

“I hear you”; a three-word phrase that brings a feeling of security, solitude, and support when coming from great company. This phrase is starting to be heard more around campus as students join a movement that supports fellow students and their mental health. 

The project was started by Lauren Bennett, senior professional education major and president of SAAC, the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. Her vision is that students will support other students with mental health and that strengthening mental health will become a priority. 

“The goal of the I Hear You Project is to get students on campus mental health and first aid certified, so they can become advocates and educational resources for their peers,” said Bennett.

“On Malone’s campus we have a very limited amount of resources when it comes to counseling, and that caused me to come up with the mental health certification program,” Bennett said. “This eight-hour session will train students and staff to have an action plan when it comes to mental health issues. My favorite part is that the training will walk [attendees] through real life scenarios, so [they] will get training on how to resolve issues when faced with them.”

“There will be table tents very soon with my contact information, and people can feel free to reach out to me and I will set up their free training.” Bennett said. “The goal is not just [to reach] athletes. I know that my title is the SAAC president, but our goal is to get as many Malone students certified as possible.”

Students receive a tag to put on their backpack or bag to indicate their certification as someone that can help those struggling with mental health.

Lexi Betz, senior communication arts major and softball player, supports Bennett’s initiative and got certified herself.

“I have always felt strongly about mental health, [both] learning about ways to [better] our mental health and to reduce the stigma,” Betz said. “Athletes have been told from a young age to keep pushing because it will get better, but there comes a point where there is no more pushing because you see it affecting your everyday life.”

“I would like to see mental health talked about more in the athletic community,” Betz said. “I want people to see that “student” comes before “athlete,” but even before “student” comes “human.” I want everyone to acknowledge that we are all people before our school or sports.”

“The best part about being certified in mental health first aid is that [even though] … I may never help someone after it, I just sat through a training that helped me learn about warning signs, and I can apply all that I learned to myself,” Betz said. “One piece [of the training] that stood out to me was how to help people who are going through panic attacks and the skills that come with that, because it is something that I see fairly often.”

“This experience has helped me become a better person, because I have had some encounters with my peers when they were struggling with their mental health, and [I was able to] recognize it rather than just labeling it as stress,” Betz said. “I was able to love them where they are at, rather than just try to fix them.” 

Another student who chose to get certified was Ella Bangert, freshman nursing major and volleyball player.

“My coach told me that this project was happening on campus,” Bangert said. “Mental health has been something that I have always seen in my life and I always have wanted the stigma to be changed.” 

“I want people to see that there are always others there for you, and sometimes they’re people you may not actually know, but I wanted to hopefully be that person for someone who may need it,” Bangert said.

“As an athlete, I feel so busy, and it can be hard to take care of my mental health at times,” Bangert said. “Things like travel, school, practice and work always seem to take priority over my mental health, so as an athlete I want all athletes to be certified or at least take the time to talk to someone about it.”The rising buzz around campus from students who are standing up to support mental health for all students is powerful, and can’t be missed. Contact Bennett at lkbennett1@malone.edu if you’d like to sign up for a mental health first aid training, or want to hear what else you can do to support the bettering of all Malone students’ mental health!

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